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You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke Hardcover – January 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (January 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688124038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688124038
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #929,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Decades after his death, Sam Cooke's thrilling, seductive tenor remains one of the glories of American popular music. His compositions have inspired a multitude of covers, few of which manage to lay a finger on the original versions. And Cooke's vocal mannerisms--the melismatic swooping and yodeling he applied to key phrases--are still audible every time Aaron Neville opens his mouth (not to mention a host of other singers, from Rod Stewart to Aretha Franklin). Clearly, then, it was time for a full-dress biography, and Daniel Wolff has done a superlative job. He traces the singer's transformation from gospel prodigy, who hit the road with the Soul Stirrers at the tender age of 19, to secular star. Endlessly ambitious, Cooke never quite figured out how to juggle his sacred and profane instincts, and Wolff is particularly good on this balancing act, as well as on the racial politics of the music industry.

From Publishers Weekly

An important contribution to the history of pop music in mid-century, this work by freelance journalist Wolff in collaboration with singer Craine, guitarist and bandleader White and music researcher Tenenbaum follows the career of Sam Cooke (born Cook) from boy singer in his father's church choir to his murder in a cheap L.A. motel in 1964. Born in 1931 in the Mississippi Delta region, he and his family migrated to Chicago in the Depression. While still a teenager, he was picked to sing in a prestigious gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1951. Later, he crossed over into secular music, where he had a string of hits, including the blockbuster "You Send Me." Handsome and well bred, he was irresistible to many women, married twice and fathered a number of children out of wedlock. The official version that he was shot by a woman during a fight raised many questions, but the LAPD, according to the authors, viewed Cooke as "just another dead nigger." Here we are offered more speculation about his sad end.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Author most recently of "The Fight for Home: How (Parts of) New Orleans Came Back" (Bloomsbury USA), as well as "How Lincoln Learned to Read," "4th of July/Asbury Park" (both Bloomsbury), "You Send Me: the Life and Times of Sam Cooke," books in collaboration with photographers Ernest Withers, Danny Lyon, and Eric Meola, as well as two volumes of poetry. Producer, with director Jonathan Demme, of a documentary called "I'm Carolyn Parker" about New Orleans.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 31 customer reviews
This was a well researched and written book.
Pamela Jarmon-Wade
Sam's great nephew - Erik Greene, takes you through the aftermath and beyond with "Our Uncle Sam".
Cornelia Jones
My mom had explained some things to me, but this book really told much more.
Amanda Spurlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "lysaparker" on December 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
There are a couple of reviews included here that criticize Wolff's (et al) biography of Sam Cooke. However, I couldn't have been more pleased with it!
As a musician/songwriter/singer, myself, "You Send Me" provided exactly the type of information I wanted to learn about my beloved Sam: how he composed, recorded, released and performed his music. I also enjoyed learning about Sam's background in Clarksdale and Chicago as well as the exhaustive research regarding his time with the QCs and the inimitable Soul Stirrers. My favorite aspect of "You Send Me" is the detail regarding the recording of each song -- Wolff described the musicians on the session, the producers, arrangers and record company personnel - how many takes - how they achieved some of the interesting sounds, etc. But, reading the line-by-line synopsis of "A Change Is Gonna Come" is what really knocked me out. For the first time, I realized that in the first line of the song ("I was born by the river in a little tent"), Sam was referring to being saved in his father's Holiness revival tents down by the river - the line finally made sense to me, after all these years. It took me a good hour to finish those 2 pages - my favorite Sam Cooke song -- I wanted to savor every word.
The info provided by Crain, White, Tenenbaum and Sam's former bandmates and label folks is fascinating. Sam's relationship with Barbara, Dee Dee, his children and the other women in his life is his business. I didn't want to delve into Sam's ultra personal life, I wanted to delve into Sam's musical genius and hear a few stories about his gigs, writing, recording and business practices. I wanted to remain a respectful distance away from his family and personal life. Maybe I'm just a true musical fan of his and not a bio reader.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By DEAN M. Dent on October 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I first read this book,I was so entranced that I stayed up all night reading.Sam Cooke had long been my musical idol and many stories about him are a) sketchy or ;b)center around the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.
Granted this book doesn't answer many questions about his cause of death,but it does open up alot of things about his life.It showed a human side to the man behind the voice(fathering many illegitimate children,his shrewed business instincts,the death of his son Vincent,and the heavy drinking before his own death),as well as a detailed account about the genisis of his greatest songs(guitarist Cliff White thought You Send Me was repetitive during the sessions for the song,Wonderful World was a demo which was rushed released by his former record label to cash-in on his RCA success,and A Change Is Gonna Come was inspired by Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind).
You Send Me, like the now deleted Man and His Music CD are essential to any Sam Cooke fan,especially when many of todays music stars could never hold a candle to this talent.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Pamela Jarmon-Wade VINE VOICE on February 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This was a well researched and written book. I enjoyed it because it was packed full of history on music industry, the Civil Rights Era and The Man (Sam Cooke). This book sent me there. It was so descriptive, that I felt like I was actually there viewing the events as they unfolded.

I am a Sam Cooke fan, but I did not know much about him. This book provided me with an in-depth look at the man from a personal and professional standpoint. His life was not picture perfect and his death is still surrounded by too much mystery. I appreciate the author revealing such sensitive info and in such a way that it did not tarnish my image of the singer.

This man's life had all the makings for a movie. The book left me not wanting for anything. I walked away full...no questions pending.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dean Martin Dent on February 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I first read this book,I was so entranced that I stayed up all night reading.Sam Cooke had long been my musical idol and many stories about him are a) sketchy or ;b)center around the bizarre circumstances surrounding his death.Granted this book doesn't answer many questions about his cause of death,but it does open up alot of things about his life.It showed a human side to the man behind the voice(fathering many illegitimate children,his shrewed business instincts,the death of his son Vincent,and the heavy drinking before his own death),as well as a detailed account about the genisis of his greatest songs(guitarist Cliff White thought You Send Me was repetitive during the sessions for the song,Wonderful World was a demo which was rushed released by his former record label to cash-in on his RCA success,and A Change Is Gonna Come was inspired by Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind).You Send Me, like the now deleted Man and His Music CD are essential to any Cooke fan,especially when many of todays music stars could never hold a candle to this talent.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ken Reed on May 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
The question of the day is: can someone who leaves this world early in their years possibly have lived a full life? Without getting too philosophical, this question often haunts us when we attempt to examine the lives of many great entertainers who transcended their craft but clearly died before their time.
The mysteries surrounding the death of Sam Cooke will never equal his accomplishments during the short life he lived and the impact he had and continues to have on the music world today. Documented through the eyes of Daniel Wolff with the help of those who knew him best, "You Send Me" provides an accurate chronology of possibly Rock-N-Roll's greatest phenomenon.
I will start by admitting that Sam Cooke is absolutely my favorite singer and that I've looked forward to reading this biography for months. Given this, you might assume that this extreme personal admiration might somewhat cloud the judgement of the average book critic. Not the case Book Circle readers. I approached this book with the utmost objectivity and an open minded attitude.
The first several chapters of "You Send Me" provides an excellent look at the backround of the Cook Family. It provides interesting details of Sam's father Charley and the hardships he faced raising a family in Mississippi's racially charged Delta during the Depression. Charley is painted as a very moral, hard working man who found religion late in life but found his home and his livelihood preaching the gospel. Charley's commitment to the church is what eventually started the gospel singing career of his children who would travel with him to sing at different churches.
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